Delusion of Name and Form

Wheel of Life

By Rev. Ken Yamada

In today’s social media world, image is everything. Becoming an influencer, garnering “likes” and followers, evoking vibes of  “Cool,” “Young,” “Rebel,” “Rich,” “Happy.”

Is it really? Or just illusion? What makes such images appealing to us?

The Buddha contemplated this phenomenon more than two millennium ago and called it,  “name and form” (Sanskrit: nāma-rūpa). In other words, our minds attach names to objects (and vice versa), giving what we see real existence. Consequently, desires arise, and along with them, passions. Continue reading “Delusion of Name and Form”

Donation Boxes at Temples

By Rev. Kensho Goto

Under the Founder’s Hall Gate at Higashi Honganji’s mother temple in Kyoto sits a large wooden box. Such boxes, which seem to contain money, sit near the two main temples, at the foot of each hall’s front steps, and elsewhere on the temple grounds. They are “donation boxes.”

People who come to worship put donations in these boxes and gently place their hands together in gassho, a prayer like position. Giving “alms” is a common practice in Christianity and other religions, but what does it mean for Shin Buddhists? Continue reading “Donation Boxes at Temples”

Pandemic Reveals Our Loneliness

By Rev. Noriaki Fujimori

Feeling lonely? I think the emergence of COVID-19 cut off our gatherings and made our loneliness more apparent. I too became aware of my loneliness and its restrictions. For many elderly, their sense of loneliness was magnified when no one could visit them.

Now that pandemic restrictions have eased, people gather more freely just like before. However, I’m concerned that feelings of loneliness will re-emerge even as we return to normal. Continue reading “Pandemic Reveals Our Loneliness”

Where exactly is the Pure Land?

By Rev. Ken Yamada

When temple visitors ask, “Where’s the Pure Land,” I usually say, it’s in “a state of mind.” Is that correct? Many people thought differently, and some were persecuted for their views.

Even today, some Jodo Shinshu followers think when they die, they’ll go to the Pure Land, comforted by the thought of reuniting with deceased loved ones. For hundreds of years in Japan, such beliefs were common.

Nowadays it’s absurd to think the Pure Land exists as a real place. There’s no proof and it’s never been scientifically verified. But just 150 years ago, a debate erupted over the Pure Land’s actual existence. Continue reading “Where exactly is the Pure Land?”